What do rich people have in common? A number of factors influence how much a person will earn throughout life and how much wealth he or she will accumulate.
What do rich people have in common? A number of factors influence how much a person will earn throughout life and how much wealth he or she will accumulate. In general, there are a variety of early life advantages that can help or hinder a person's earning potential. And, according to researchers from Kansas State University, personality traits are also associated with wealth. Here are six personality traits common among people who are considered wealthy (those in the top 2.5% of earners in the United States.)
Wealthy people don't hate money
According to the study, participants were asked questions that reflected whether or not they exhibited what the researchers called 'money avoidance’. Money avoidance was described as beliefs such as, 'I don't deserve money,' 'money corrupts,' or 'rich people get where they are by taking advantage of others’. Another characteristic of money avoidance is the belief that it is morally better to live frugally.
Those who were wealthy were less likely to exhibit money avoidance, which can also be described as a dislike or distaste for money.
It certainly makes sense that wealthy individuals do not have negative feelings about money, and more importantly, that wealthy people do not view wealthy people antagonistically. The reasons for money avoidance are different for each person, and perhaps the root of such negative emotions towards money and towards wealthy people could trace back to experiences such as painful childhood incidents of exclusion, parental values about money or personal observations of wealthy people behaving dishonestly.
Wealthy people don't worship money
Ironically, while wealthy people were less likely to hate money, they were also less likely to worship money. The researchers tested money worship with questions focused on the mindset that 'money makes you happy' or 'money gives you power’. Wealthy respondents were less likely to display characteristics of money worship.
It would seem that believing that money gives you power would motivate people to acquire wealth, but, interestingly, that was not the case.
Wealthy people aspire to be wealthy
A more straightforward portion of the research focused on whether respondents aspired to be wealthy. And it turns out, as expected, those who were wealthy were more likely to report that they personally aimed for wealth. Perhaps those who were ambivalent about money and who held negative emotions towards wealth did not wish to be wealthy, despite the fact that they were more likely to exhibit feelings of money worship.
In general, psychologists report that negative feelings drive behaviors more than positive feelings. Thus, it appears that people who dislike rich people but think that money is empowering are less likely to work towards becoming wealthy than people who approve of the wealthy but do not necessarily think money is all that amazing.
Wealthy people attribute wealth to personal motivation
And, whether it was true or not, wealthy people were more likely to attribute their wealth to their own personal motivation. It is certainly possible that some of the wealthy study participants inherited their wealth or was 'lucky,' but, most of the time, it does take a degree of personal effort and self-discipline to acquire and maintain wealth. This study, in particular, noted that both the wealthy group and the control group, on average, reported similar childhood socioeconomic situations.
Wealthy people have more financial knowledge
Wealthy individuals self reported that they have higher financial knowledge, while those in the control group believed that they had less financial knowledge. It makes sense that those who successfully accumulate wealth have a comfort level with financial concepts and are less intimidated by making decisions about money.
Of course, there is also chicken or egg question when it comes to the relationship between financial know-how and wealth. Do wealthy people become wealthy because they understand money? Or do wealthy individuals make the effort to learn about money because they need to figure out how to manage their growing prosperity? Either way, the lack of intimidation of financial principles and business lingo appears to be a key factor to accumulating and maintaining wealth.
Wealthy people don't overspend
It seems that overspending would be an unfair benchmark by which to compare wealthy and non-wealthy individuals, because the wealthy do not need to overspend in order to acquire their basic needs, while people who are less affluent may need to overspend just to live. However, overspending can be a serious problem for high earners, not just for lower earners. The researchers reported that financial vigilance, which is related to habits such as saving and planning, was more common among the higher earners.
Overall, the researchers linked overspending to habits such as gambling and to the money avoidance belief that 'I don't deserve money,' and not to spending on essentials.
Of course it is true that some people have unfair financial advantages in life. Those who have access to better education and more guidance and support throughout their young years are several steps closer to achieving wealth than those who face inherent situational disadvantages. And personality traits are rooted in large part in those early life experiences. Understanding your own money attitudes can help you overcome the personality traits that may be preventing you from achieving your financial potential and your own financial security.